“You look very LA,” Collin said as I finished getting dressed for our weekend blog shoot. Incidentally, he has never been anywhere south of Portland, and we ended up shooting at a place quite the opposite of LA — a rural community garden out in the middle of nowhere that neither of us knew existed. We kind of just stumbled upon it.

It really made me wonder, did I look very LA, having not lived there for quite some time now? Did I even look very LA while I lived there? I seem to recall a lot of sweat pants, bottom of the barrel Forever 21 shirts and not a lot of anything else.

In fact, prior to moving to Vancouver, I dressed like straight up frump royalty — ill fitted pants, a whopping wide variety of 4 or 5 shirts, and a burgundy hoodie that I borrowed and never returned. In short, there were no fucks given as I lived among the trendy, beautiful, and ambitious.

What changed?

I think it was a good mixture of meeting the right people, observing the differences in culture, and getting my head out of my ass at last.

The first thing I noticed when I moved here in 2012, was the absence of color. (Or colour, as it is.) People walked around in monochromatic palettes to complement the ever-grey rainy weather. Black, white, and grey seemed to be the norm, and an adventurous person might garnish some beige! Colorful clothing and patterns never struck me as a rare sight until the move. I began to miss it terribly.

And then, I met someone who felt the same way. Meghan loves her colors, she is a peacock who knew what hue of sweaters goes with what tone of nails. We worked together and had a lot of boring work time to talk about the sad state of fashion in Vancouver — even though I was one of the worst perpetrators.

Suddenly, the endless heaps of yoga-pants-and-sneakers-clad people walking around started to irk me. Oh my god, I thought to myself as I looked in my closet, time to change! 

I’ve always had a liking for looking at style and fashion, but never bothered to put it on myself. Why not? Laziness, not having any budget for cute clothes, and having absolutely no idea how to put together a coherent outfit were the main culprits.

It was a slow and long process to collect pieces from various sources (new, thrifted, gifted…) that can be used in different looks, and I’m pretty happy with my closet now. It took a lot of welcoming in new things, and a hell of a lot more of letting go.

Ironically, as I sit here writing about color, this outfit is actually one of the strange few I own that are not obnoxiously bright. But it’s not all about color. Over time, I learned that it’s great to still own relatively plain t-shirts if you can gather other pieces to make it interesting. And that piling on quirky pieces on top of each other will make you look like a weird hippie meets hipster Christmas tree.

Truthfully, it was a strange long learning curve that I don’t think I would have ridden out if I had stayed in LA. I was surrounded by actors and models in training, and they were all so effortlessly stylish. I felt like they were fashionable enough to cover for me, a small fish with zero ambitions to stand out.

My motto was and still is, “I’m just here for the food, fam!” Except now I will eat while not dressed like frump royalty.

Now a little bit about this outfit — this shirt is actually one of my favorites. It bears with it strange memories of a Vanic concert I was so excited for yet got way too drunk to listen to. I heard the bass of the entire set from the bathroom with my head dangerously close to a public toilet. Yet before I crawled out and into a cab, I somehow managed to stop by the merch booth to get this shirt.

The skirt traveled quite a long ways to get here — as American Apparel started shuttering their stores, I was too late to the closing sales to get one in my size locally. Good thing Alex (who lives in Arizona) was an amazing friend and picked one up for me, and a few months later, we met up in LA where she could hand it to me in person.

Did you notice a pair of nostalgic Luna and Artemis pins on my jacket collar? Another acquirement from LA — Pauline, the hat making waifu I mentioned in this post whose pin collection is getting slightly out of hand gave them to me. No, the odango hair and pleated skirt wasn’t a coincidence, it’s an homage to Sailor Moon!

And we’re back to talking about LA. Incidentally, I feel more LA the longer I’m away from there. I guess its spirit has lodged itself in my brain this whole time, and I never bothered to let it out until I wasn’t there anymore.

Do you have the look and feel of a city? Which one?

Sunglasses Giorgio Armani (Hand me down) | Shirt Concert merch | Jacket Bluenotes | Skirt American Apparel | Belt Thrifted |Pins Gifted |Shoes Gola (Thrifted) | Photos @deklyn21